This study abroad experience felt like it lasted forever. Looking back to January feels like a lifetime ago, and the person I was then is ridiculously unaware of all the fun times she was about to have. When I first arrived, I had trouble meeting locals and mostly hung out with my roommates. They were great, but it felt like something was missing and I was bummed to not be doing more things outdoors with crazy Aussies like I thought I would. All of this changed in February, when I started hanging out with the Outdoors Club at UNSW. The people in the club were actually nuts and made me scared and so eager. For the four months following my initial encounter with the club, I had an absolutely insane and wild adventure.
I put school on a backburner (although I recommend staying on top of things at least somewhat; I know that it’s much less fun than exploring but you still need to pass your classes!) and went outside for all sorts of new experiences. My new friends took me canyoning, abseiling, climbing, sea kayaking, camping, driving, surfing, wind sailing, you name it! I’m an outdoors-motivated person, so after a month of being trapped in a city it felt like I could finally breathe and be myself again. My new friends were a mix of Aussies, Brits, and various other random nationalities (including Canadian and Chinese, and everywhere else) and I know that I will remain lifelong friends with a handful of them.
I learned so much from the experiences I had and the people I met; I’ve changed as a person and become more open and probably a little lot unhinged. Saying goodbye to these friends felt more like saying goodbye to the person I’d become, because I was terrified that I would go back to Boulder and not know how to act anymore. And to some extent, that’s true. Being back feels so odd; it feels like my experience was a glitch and that it never really happened. Although it's great to see my friends and family at home (especially my cat), I feel like a part of me is missing all over again. I’ve realized that I might need to start over with my approach to Boulder since I’ve had a poor outlook on life here. I should take advantage of every situation just as I did in Sydney—just because I’m no longer abroad doesn’t mean I shouldn’t keep pushing myself to meet new people and try new things!
Overall, I’ve appreciated the return home because I did miss certain people, things, foods, and also having a job and making money. Despite this, I dearly miss Australia and the connections I made, and it feels as though I left one family behind to come back to another. It’s a bittersweet combination of emotions and I’m grateful for it because I think I will learn to rediscover Boulder and gain more appreciation for it.
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Stella is currently a mechanical engineering student at the University of Colorado Boulder, where her goal is to always have at least one foot out of her comfort zone. When she is not on the engineering grind, she is passionate about playing guitar, backpacking, climbing, dancing, or really anything that will get her outside and soaking up the sunshine. Being raised in a French/English bilingual household, she grew up with an appreciation for other cultures and traveling. As she continues on her journey toward adulthood, she hopes to keep experiencing the unfamiliar and become an increasingly global citizen.